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Niger: The Land Of Fear with David Adams (Trade Route History Documentary) | Timeline


It takes its name from the Arabic word for emptiness al Zahara But the Sahara is really a collection of deserts and the most remote is the Tenere I sit had to cross the ténéré in the way caravans have done for a thousand years it’ll mean a journey of 1,200 miles over rock and sand by vehicle camel and on foot and It’s a dangerous journey For in the sweltering dessicated furnace death strikes the week the ill-prepared or the unlucky They call it the land of fear My name is David Adams and as a photojournalist, I’ve made a point of going to some of the world’s most remote places My journey starts in the African Republic of nazir a former French colony where the Tenere meets the iya mountains Which is why I’m in the ancient city of Agra des AGGA des is a mud city and there seems no end to the patterns that clay and straw can achieve It’s also a holy city of Islam This mosque claiming to have one of the highest mud minarets in all of Africa It’s a city that got rich on trade less than a hundred years ago Slaves gold and ivory were sold here in the Agadez markets Just love the chaos of these markets in Africa, you can get absolutely anything and everything’s being bargained and it’s all over the place sugar cane onions brain from Niger and then there’s this stuff salt has actually been the mainstay of This whole area of Africa for probably more than a thousand years and it’s the great salt caravans that bring it here This is Caravan central first port of call after crossing the wilderness From north south east and west they converge on Agadez Because it straddles one of the great desert crossroads of africa Everything about these markets is geared to caravans clothing footwear head wear even a haircut Meat drinks and fruit for a lengthy desert crossing and of course food for the camels, too Doesn’t look very happy do they I Think you probably really upset because he can’t eat it It’s sort of the reverse of having a carrot hanging in front of you if you’ve got lunch on your back and you can’t do Anything about it? This is truly stepping back in time here, we are at the dawn of a new millennium and there are still people wearing swords They’re called the Tuareg Not people that you’d want to mess with Only 18 months earlier they were in full armed rebellion against the nisha government So if you want to travel to the desert and survive you need their help Which is why I’ve got to go a hundred and twenty miles to the north That’s 200 kilometers to chammiya a place famous for its camel races Here, I’ll find the people. I need to get me across the Tanner a So these are the people I’d come to meet the Legendary warriors of the desert and they wouldn’t look out of place in a Star Wars movie either The Tuareg once ran an empire that controlled the central Sahara no caravan could pass without their say-so There are many theories about their origins some say they’re one of the Lost Tribes of Israel Others that they were originally Christian hence the prevalence of the cross as a Tuareg motive But today they’re Muslim and in stark contrast of the Islamic norm It’s the men who cover their faces while the women live there is unveiled The Tuareg are fiercely competitive many of them riding up to four days just to take part in this race And today that’s all it is Oh grace not long ago that have lined up like this for a warrior’s charge They’re off and there’s lots of just links the league which sometimes leads to accidents In what an awesome sight these are the sentence of desert pirates who as recently as the 1990s were still raiding caravans with Lars and sword Somehow I don’t think nature ever designed a camel to gallop It’s more of an awkward wallop half Kanter half trot not very comfortable for the rider And it isn’t a race for the faint-hearted The course is just over two miles of three and a half kilometres Plodding across the tannery with a caravan won’t be quite like this It takes ten minutes to cross the line And when they do it’ll be to the chairs of their women and the jeers of their rivals It’s going to be interesting crossing the desert of men like these There’ll be many races today and in between the dancing a Chance for the Warriors a little stain and for me a chance to take some photographs Perfect moments like this when there’s an amazing picture and your camera breaks This is my panoramic and there’s no working Will never happen again Bond they dance until the prize-giving and this is the prize a Legendary sword of the Tuareg the takabe, and it’s certainly not a toy Every Tuareg month But today they’re more for show he says a symbol of manliness But for a weapon that’s just a symbol. It’s extraordinarily sharp the perfect prize for a warrior So these racers are about more than just rewarding winners they’re about creating legends It’s as if we’re back in the Middle Ages in the time of the Moors prasada Knights and tales of chivalry and honor And Preparing to cross the desert to help me a team of Tuareg will show me the way to the tannery and beyond Camping equipment tools spare wheels and spare parts of diesel fuel medical suppliers rations for three weeks and of course plenty of water We decided not to take tents It hasn’t rained in the Tenere for 15 years and it isn’t likely to for another 15, but I did bring these Anywhere without the old skis We’re heading north into bandit country, our route takes us through the hard measures higher mountains This was a crier egg stronghold during the rebellion It’s desert, all right, but just in case you’re wondering where the sand dunes and mirages are Well relatively little of the Sahara is sand you and a hell of a lot of it is mountainous Some of these Arab peeps are over 7,000 feet high I wanted to explore them I wanted to go deep into them when no European had ever gone and To do that I had to start in the isolated town of if you are Here everything is improvised buckets become drums wires become toys and an old plastic container will do as a soccer ball If I’d have been walking down these streets 18 months earlier there’s a fair chance but have been kidnapped and held for ransom This was a Tuareg headquarters during the rebellion today all is quiet and I’m just a figure of curiosity Word was getting out that there was a stranger in town Maybe I’d like to ride a camel. If so, wouldn’t I like to buy a saddle? Or maybe one of those murderers Tuareg so This is a really old one. Looks like these are the old alchemy moon symbols That would show you only find on the really old swords An answer in selling anything But why would I want to buy it when I can get one made to order These must be some of the world’s last sword smiths to make swords for combat a Blade of the finest cutting steel which 500 years ago would have come from European cities like Toledo or Padua Today’s taco bar is more likely to have been forged out of Toyota bumpers I’m looking for a guide Yeah, because I want to go from from million across the mountains into the tin rain I can do yeah Yeah, do you have camels have coming because I would like to go either today or tomorrow? Okay And that’s how I came to meet Koya abdul rahman Irr a man who become my guide and mentor a man has helped me to understand about tuara culture That in the desert lawyers family live a nomadic life moving from Camp to camp with their animals in search of feed So the family has been here for three weeks They need to be near water Not too near an old custom forbids Tuareg to camp nearer than five miles from water List their children go up taking it for granted It’s rare that one gets the chance to meet the Tuareg at firsthand. Oh and what a greeting It means how are you? How are your parents your family your children your grandparents and so on David The third one is my my wife His name was Carla, I was quite a bizarre heat Absorbed oh, yeah absorbs out. And what does it mean? What is although he I? Give him this name depend his color. Yeah, so also means white the white up. So it’s white but not very white is Not very very white is near white. Ha ha ha So it’s on absol that I’ll ride into the ténéré perched on a Tuareg saddle with what looked like sharp trident shaped handlebars the Spikes for these ones Protection for inaudible from the sword also when they were fighting this is so that you didn’t get captured by. Oh I Thought it was for me to hang on to Saddle cloths provisions and a traditional water bottle made of goat skins, but there’s something missing and Where are the stirrups, there are no stirrups master. Ok Camels and committees and this one looks particularly well designed Also go very good temperament I think now this is the easy way of mounting a camel If you want to do it the Tuareg Just grab its chin climb up on its neck and spring into the settle before it bites you easy So off we ride into the mountains towards one of the highest peaks in the ayah, add Ratan gak As we go Oya sings me songs about his Tuareg heroes and their exploits in battle And I demand an RBI Oh Honest I mean Is love Shekhar We’re heading up a dry riverbed through the town gack corridor the start of a major caravan route to the tannery So it’s a bit of a surprise to get our feet wet quite so soon It was the last water we’d see for over a week By now, I’m getting to know her not long ago. He was a wealthy man who owned over a hundred camels But he got caught up in the Tuareg rebellion against the nisha government had absolutely ruined him leaving him with just these two Cameras in the rebellion many of his friends were killed Not a lot As I was to discover Islam is central to Hoyas life when our spray it means I was Take contact with good I pray for him. I must do this for ham fine. I would ask him What I’m what I want That night hire brood a part of strong Tuareg minted tea which has to be poured back into the pot three times Why do you poured three times three times is something? We see with our ancestors if it was embodied one T or two was not happy. It’s not good. It’s not a good thing It’s a tradition for our ancestors Next morning, we’ve got company a family of baboons appears from nowhere in the middle of this iron mountain wilderness It’s a big one. Yeah, I see it in before the chief is sitting on this big stone here suppose This is the big black ones. There are at once – yeah they didn’t stay together because There they fight again, right? And that’s not a yawn it’s a threat his way of letting you know that you’ve come quite close enough But what’s so amazing is that they’re here at all in an arid place like this as It happens their relics from a different age Wow looks like a whole family. It’s a family thing Maybe around Their animals long gone from this desolate wilderness yet. Their images have been faithfully recorded in stone It just goes to show the power of climate change When Tutankhamun sat on the Egyptian throne and King Solomon ruled Israel This would have been lush savanna land with plenty of game for hunter-gatherers Whoever carved these seven to ten thousand years ago Sat here in a very different landscape than I do because what he saw out on the plains was giraffe Ibex and all the other animals here on these rocks and all I can see is Jones There before me is what I’ve come all this way to see the great tenor a desert Washing like a gigantic ocean of sand across the rocky coastline of the air mountains So reunited with my vehicles we head off into the desert with Hoya coming along as my guide Towards midday in the 10r a burning Sun heats the sand her over 110 degrees not good for driving even for our Tuareg friends and They’re some of the world’s best desert 4-wheel drivers Oh, it’s what I think it’s not so easy we might be having lunch Problem is that the Sun is so hot at the moment that all the sand is really really light And so the kind of attraction we may even have to wait till late in the afternoon So we let air out of our tires deflated tires cover more surface area and gain more traction and Once into the real desert we can get up quite a speed Once into the Tenere all the desert is a road where each car makes its own track But Wyrick always drive information always inside of one another Yet you can get lost in a mirage long before you ever reach the horizon Here the sand is firm and the drive is easy But where the dunes are soft and steep that’s where their driving skills really kick in The trick seems to be to run up to the crest Break at the very last moment and then let the car gently slide down and there you go But sometimes even the Tuareg get it wrong It was our first accident and we’re 400 miles from the nearest service station Pull it down into the compartment when they hit the ground it also ripped out the tire from underneath And when they collected the ground in front, it’s actually bend up this really large bumper bar It’s serviceable, but I think it’s going to cost us quite a bit It was a rather violent introduction to some of the most serene sand dunes on earth This is actually a giant meteorite crater Eric ow, and right now the light is absolutely perfect I have to say I’ve been waiting all my life to come and sit here and watch a sunset like this across these dunes These are some of the biggest in the world And for the next couple of hours in early tomorrow morning the colors and these shapes will just change and change and change and for this And taking the photos here is absolutely heaven 3 The shapes are incredibly sensual curves and ripples made crisp in the red evening light And as the last rays of Desert Sun slip over the horizon and the sand dunes cease to glow a Revel in this photographers dream Okay the next morning I wanted to have a crack at the world’s highest sand dune and do it on skis my friends thought I was absolutely crazy This sand hill is a little over 300 meters high that’s almost a thousand feet and the Tuareg told me it has never been skied before The trouble is the nearest ski lift is over 2,000 miles away and it was hot very hot Every step I take here seems to be Two steps back and this Ridge seems further and further away. Hey, every time I take the next step Getting up here on the ridge this view is absolutely incredible These dark riches behind me that just burn in this Sun and then turns away into the distance across this amazing crater I can see everything Fantastic, huh ready? That’s harder than snipers. Yeah Just having gone up there and skied down on your legs kind of get really tired because you can’t move properly. I Don’t know if anybody’s done that before but um, I had a hat off to him if they had. Oh I love some water. Please somebody Say I’ve been really stupid or taking it up One week into our desert journey and we’re now well into the tannery and I have a caravan to catch We’re heading into the heart of Nazir’s sand ocean and the analogy isn’t a bad one Here in the middle of North Africa, it feels as if you’re really crossing the sea The Tenere takes its name from the Tuareg word for nothingness So we’re crossing a nothingness the size of France in the middle of an emptiness the size of the United States Donavan sometimes they’re comers who died during the caravan there comers who died. This is one of them Yeah Death Comes quickly here in the ten rang go without water for eight hours and you start to die And your body doesn’t rot. It’s so dry out here even bacteria struggle to survive No wonder they call it the land of fear Yet for centuries Tuareg caravans have been crossing it and we’re on the trail of one right now Caravan truck see. Oh, yeah Caravan proxy. We don’t know exactly would I want to I will go and see whether No need for Global Positioning satellites out here they use organic navigation camel droppings Look Seth looks dry Looks dry how many days three days I don’t maybe three days So not so far by the car I don’t under the metal sweetheart, okay Then in the middle of nowhere we see bales of hay It’s a camel take out our supply duck. Our Caravan can’t be far ahead now On and on for the nothingness we go until a strange shimmering line starts to resolve on the horizon It’s the caravan Once more it seems as if time has Stood Still things have hardly changed since the Middle Ages With satellites high above here. They are navigating their way with pinpoint precision Through the turnaround and not a compass in size This is the same Caravan that’s been dropping off. Hey all along the route so when they return they can feed their camels Using the Sun the wind and the Stars to guide them they’ll find it again easily But they have a problem a boy with a badly infected hand luckily as part of our supplies, we have a medical Kits now look we can do with him and he probably needs pretty serious attention to it But hopefully we can stop the infection and clean it up But it’s much better treatment than he’d normally get out here in a place where the nearest medical help is hundreds of miles away And it’s nothing good he’ll he will lose his arm if his wound turns gangrenous could be a stark choice amputation All of this brings the dangers of desert travel into sharp focus While the ténéré is awesomely beautiful, there’s no margin for error no support something goes wrong By now endearing one of the most isolated outposts in the country of Lisieux the town of Billman And how’s this for water ski practice well at least there aren’t any sharks out here Deal We’ve done about two hundred and twenty miles across this sand ocean and my Tuareg friends have navigated us perfectly No, thanks to this though and Again on a maritime note, what would you expect to see on the other side of an ocean but a lighthouse? It’s just that the real ocean is a thousand miles away It was part of a whole string of them built around the ténéré in the 1930s It’s abandoned now, but it had a distinctly colonial purpose Because this wasn’t actually built for the Tuareg because they don’t need Navigation in the desert they’ve got their own it was built for the French army, so they wouldn’t get lost This is the oasis town of Bill Maher and here there’s plenty of fresh water It bubbles out of the ground crystal-clear turning the desert into a tropical garden But it’s surprising to discover that most of this fresh water is turned into salt water deliberately Because there’s so much salt in the ground water is poured into these pools to leach it out the burning Sun does the rest In temperatures of way over 110 degrees or 50 degrees Celsius the water quickly evaporates leaving the salt behind It’s here that an old Bible story comes to life they make pillars of salt You’re looking at an industry that hasn’t changed for thousands of years There’s a shortage of salt in the Sahara so Bill Mersault still finds its way to just about every corner of North Africa, which is why Bill Maher attracts the caravans Not far from the salt pans It’s a mass of bellowing fighting cud-chewing camels all waiting to start a two-week journey back across the tannery There’s a caravan leaving soon Laura and I will be joining it but first he needs to buy some salt for his animals back home Now I discover something else about my companion he’s fussy about his salt So much that he literally puts it to the litmus test if it’s a good fault, it will come orange if it is not good you to explain like That was the easy no now comes the haggling and we’re only talking about a deal worth $6 It harks back to the days when salt was a common in and out here it still is Indeed the word salary comes from solarium Latin for salt The money that was paid to the Roman legions to buy their salt rations In all my travels I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many camels every year they reckon some 25,000 pass through Billman Each of these salt pillars weighs about 65 pounds or 30 kilos So with a six pillar load on a good strong camel, that’s nearly a quarter of a ton So it’s not surprising there’s a great deal of complaining at loading time But once loaded they settle down our Caravan finally gets underway How many times have you because the generator Since you were this big we’ve just embarked on a 370 mile trip across the channel that’s 600 kilometers a journey of more than two weeks When walking with caravans lesson number one, never underestimate its speed While camels amble at what seems to be a dignified pace their legs are long and you need to walk briskly just to keep her So, how many camels are we go? Yeah, and here’s lesson number two That’s maybe 300 We didn’t Know but you know the back it is a number of nobody will Force period yeah, it’s not good I touched on a Tuareg nerve if you count your camels one may die. So it’s better to remain ignorant And during a caravan you soon realize how effective Tuareg robes are they preserve moisture So how much water would these men drink every day riding on the caravan? Just three cups of water each day. Well, I was drinking the nearly gallon or more than five litres There’s a Tuareg saying it’s too hard to talk. So they’re like a camel a hundred miles down 275 more to go that’s about 500 kilometres But many of these caravans go a lot further Right across Africa without any regard for international borders and the borders on a problem. You just cannot release no problem in Because Touareg like Freedom you think that there is no board from him in his mind. There’s no board Everywhere is for him At last I was beginning to get a handle on these proud of desert travelers gentle and hospitable, but Fiercely independent and it’s something they’re prepared to fight for So what does it mean to be a Tuareg? Is it freedom simply or is there more there are more? freedom fest anything Anything to terrorize the deep desert, yeah the desert tannery and there is so many I Don’t know kill kill kill Which means really and the Tuareg obligation to respect The following morning as the blue pre-dawn Twilight spreads across the Tenere hundreds of camels are on the moon Silently crossing this remarkable desert in both directions And If you ever thought that the middle of the Sahara was the middle of nowhere we’ll think again This nowhere is a superhighway The Tenere is alive with caravans It would be a mistake to think of caravans in terms of crude Western commerce To a Tuareg the caravan is a symbol of the journey of life No one here is a complete man until he’s crossed the desert with a caravan at least once So on I go day after day night after night falling further under the spell of this Tuareg sense of freedom and independence and with Hoyas help I have completed this rite of passage and Crossed one of the world’s remotest deserts on another of my journeys to the ends of the earth

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